Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Hath Sprung (somewhat...a little...not so much)

Spring seems to think it's here, though I'm not convinced. Bugs are coming out of the woodwork, literally in the case of the commando spiders that appeared last week. And yesterday a bulbous black fly wandered into my windshield, clearly cold and disoriented like he'd been on a bender.

I am also cold and disoriented, but not like a newborn fly or like I've been on a bender (couldn't make it outside if I tried on those days). Winter has been long and dull. I've gained a lot of weight, and made the mistake of convincing myself it was only a little weight until I stopped being able to fit into things, like doorways. Little doorways, anyway.

So, while I have already failed at my New Year's Resolution (try not to be such an A-hole all the time), I have made some Spring Resolutions:
1. Exercise at least 120 hard minutes a week, on top of always taking the stairs.
2. Stop eating after 8 PM.
3. Spend more time outside. I swear I sometimes am only out for 2 minutes a day. It's ridiculous.

I figured I'm going to be in this body for awhile, despite all the science fiction I read, so I'd better start treating it like it matters.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To Breed or not to Breed

All my friends are having babies, or talking about babies, or thinking about adding more babies to their current collection of babies and/or children. I'm not sure how I feel about this. We had one baby. It's now a toddler well on its way to becoming an adult and/or howler monkey. Sometimes you don't know until later how they turn out.

So, my friends say (paraphrasing here), you are still at a viable age to produce normal offspring. Why don't you jump on the baby-making bandwagon (not literal-that would be gross) with us?

I look at what that entails: nausea; heartburn; sleepless nights; demonic snoring; sciatica; trying to perfect the "latch" with a recalcitrant infant while going on 0 sleep for two weeks; trying to lose the weight, again; trying to be patient and kind and educate the child when all I want to do is take a shower or have breakfast. I won't even talk about giving birth, because for those of you who got drugs, you have no idea. For those of you who didn't, you know why I'm not talking about it.

Then I look at my son and his quests to eat Vaseline and climb everything and bite the backs of my knees, and I think to myself that he is just perfect. I'm not greedy. I know the next child would be different. Maybe it would sleep through the night starting at four months. Maybe it would want to sleep with us until it was four. Maybe it would prefer Comet to Vaseline. I think I'll just stick to the one.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

on Thinking the Synopsis Was the Problem When Really it Was the Story or: Bad Story

I spent the better part of yesterday working on a synopsis for a manuscript I finished a month ago. I’ve been working on the synopsis on and off for that interim period, wondering why in the name of all that is Holy I couldn’t get an excellent summary of the characters, plot points and themes of the novel down in two (double-spaced, so really ONE) pages while including some echo of the voice of the book.

I Googled the crap out of synopsis-writing, actually read some of the suggestions, but mostly slogging about in forums reading other writers’ posts about how they:
1. Are having the same, exact problem!
2. Can’t believe how idiotic the agents specifying the brevity of the synopsis were!
c. Will not possibly be able to boil their excellent or very good or exceedingly complicated novels down to this length!

It occurred to me about two weeks ago that my manuscript had some serious plot shortcomings and that one of the main characters was exceedingly weak (one of those guys who is strong and complicated in my mind but somehow comes up flat and lifeless on paper). I beefed up a subplot, clarified a thing or two which I had left intentionally though pointlessly vague, and corrected a weird chapter sequencing thing that I stumbled across. Thus, the problem of writing the synopsis was solved. It was never a problem with the synopsis. It was a problem with the story.

That may not be the problem that other writers are having getting their synopses done, but it might not hurt to take another look.

Special (unsolicited) thanks to Knight Agency agent Nephele Tempest for this blog post which helped me to figure out where I was going wrong.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Creatures from the Deep and Dark (or Bright and Porcelain)

So, I was calmly enjoying a warm-ish afternoon of writing (finally got the launching point for the new book) and, what to my wondrous ears should appear? Why, the frantic sounds of a small creature or bony-limbed, would-be burglar scrambling about in my chimney. The horrible scratching would go on for about ten seconds, then pause, then resume. And then…silence.

Now, I’ve never pretended to be brave, or good in the face of danger (or vermin), but the one thing I simply cannot handle is small creatures in my home. Bugs, fine. Anything warm-blooded is right out.

Following are my vague, panic-drenched memories of the last time the home in which I lived was infiltrated by a small, uninvited mammal:

I was alone and getting ready to take a shower. I know it’s spooky, but it gets spookier. I was living in a duplex. *gasp* Actually, the relevance of the duplex is that I had been living on one side of it with my sister and her boyfriend. The other side became available and, because it had a garage, we took it. It was teeming with mice. We sealed cracks in the wall. We cleaned everything surface we could find. We set regular traps, glue traps. Mice…everywhere.

So. I was alone and getting ready to take a shower. I pulled back the shower curtain and stared down into the blinking black eyes of a mouse. My heart stopped. I couldn’t touch it. For some reason, it terrified me. Then, I remembered that we had a dog in the house. Tall, skinny shepherd mix. I thought, huh, perhaps I will just allow the circle of life to occur in the bathtub. I called the dog. She stood beside me, staring down into the bathtub, and did nothing. Oh, sure, she pointed, she whirled and barked, she licked her lips. But she didn’t get the darn mouse out of the tub.

Perhaps the mouse is too far away, I thought. Maybe if I add some water to the tub, the mouse will float and the dog will be able to pluck it off the surface of the water. I turned on the faucet, adjusting the temperature so that the mouse would not be uncomfortable (yes, the irony that I was, in fact, bringing it closer to certain death with comfortable bath water is not lost on me). And then, the thing I did not anticipate. The mouse began to swim, paddling slowly in a circle. It was kind of cute, except that it kept being nearly drowned by the running water. In the end, the dog took care of the problem, but neither she nor I have ever recovered.

What’s the point, you say? The point is that I have some THING in the chimney, and no dog. Just two rather stupid, pitiful cats. I could start a fire. I could go to a hotel. There are all kinds of options for dealing with this, but since I have never gotten over a fluttery feeling of guilt for the way that poor mouse met his end, I think I will practice avoidance and pretend the thing is not in there. I will call a chimney sweep come spring and let him deal with it.